Saturday, June 25, 2011

Pie Confessions

I have a confession to make.  Actually, I have two confessions.  The first is that I've always struggled with making pie crust from scratch.  In fact, it wasn't until the last 6 to 8 years that I even really tried to work on my pie crust skills.  And even still, those damn Pillsbury pre-made pie crusts are just so convenient.  Just unroll the dough into your pie pan and have a nice day!  But for this pie I decided to go for it.  It's hot in my apartment today and pie crust doesn't like heat while it is being made.  Yeah, you get my drift.

My second confession is that the pie I made today is based on my fond childhood memories of eating sour cream blueberry pie at Marie Callender's.  I grew up in a very small town.  When Marie Callender's came to the "big city" an hour south of my home, my family went there for dinner and I tried the sour cream blueberry pie.  Wow, was my mind blown!  A sweet, juicy blueberry filling topped with  a creamy concoction of sour cream! What more could a chubby young girl possibly want with her fruit?  So that became my go-to pie whenever our parents agreed to take my sister and I to the culinary mecca that was Marie Callender's.

Times have changed and I cook for a living now, and it ain't at Marie Callender's!  My tastes my have grown up along with the rest of me, but I still think about that blueberry pie.  I've even thought about re-creating it in the past, but like many things on my eternal to-do list, I never got around to it.  Until today.  I've researched copy cat recipes for the Marie Callender's pie of my youth and I decided to use them as a foundation, combined with my own current tastes and delicious memories.  I knew that I wanted to use fresh blueberries, as opposed to the canned filling combined with minced apples that most recipes call for.  Luckily for me, there was a one-day sale on organic blueberries at work this week.  Um, I bought 12 pints.  It was such a good deal, I couldn't resist.  And you can freeze blueberries you know!  Oh, I don't have to explain myself to anybody, so there!  Where was I?  Oh yes, the filling.  I wanted a fresh filling that would set and slice nicely without being overly rubbery.  And the topping needed to be creamy and rich, with that lovely tart taste of sour cream.  This was to be the kind of pie that is made in separate components and put together, not like other sour cream pie recipes that call for baking fresh fruit in a sour cream filling thickened with flour.

Back to the pie crust.  I used Cook's Illustrated Foolproof Pie Dough recipe.  It really does make a great crust and the addition of vodka keeps it nice and tender.  Just keep in mind when rolling your dough, if it is hot in your house you may need to put your dough back in the refrigerator, a lot.  And you might need to patch it up in areas where the heat of your fingers causes it to start melting.  But seriously, don't let me scare you.  You really should try this pie crust recipe, it's by far the best I've had.  Even if mine didn't look as pretty, the taste and texture was out of this world.

You can find the pie dough recipe here, but I included some photos of the steps.  I used the recipe for a double crust pie and froze the other half because I knew I'd be using it again.  I recommend you do the same because if you're committing the time to making a crust from scratch, you might as well make it worth your while.  The filling of this pie will really depend on your sweetness and juiciness of your berries.  You'll need to taste the filling as you go and add more sugar, lemon juice and thickener as needed.

This pie turned out to be even better than I remembered!  I bet you'll enjoy it just as much!

Elisa's Sour Cream Blueberry Pie
I used a 9" pie pan

2 pints fresh blueberries
sugar to taste, I used one cup
fresh lemon juice to taste, I used one lemon
King Arthur Flour Instant ClearJel Powder, I used 5 Tb.
water as needed, I used 3/4 cup

4 oz. cream cheese
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 tsp. gelatin, bloomed in 2 Tb. cool water
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Put 1 1/2 cups of the flour, sugar, salt, butter and shortening into a food processor bowl.

Pulse a few times until it looks like this.  Then add the rest of the flour and pulse again.

When it looks like this, dump the mixture into a bowl.

Add 1/4 cup vodka, yes vodka, and 1/4 cup cold water to the crumb mixture.  You may want to take a shot of vodka for yourself at this point as well.  To calm your nerves.

Fold and press everything together until it looks like this.

Divide the pie dough into two even balls and flatten them out.  Wrap both in plastic wrap.  I put one straight into the freezer for later and the other I put into the refrigerator to rest and chill for 45 minutes.

Roll out the dough and put into a 9" pie pan and do what you like with the edges.  I fluted mine and then put the whole thing into the freezer for about 30 minutes.

When the crust is nice and firm, line it with foil and fill with beans (or pie weights) to "blind bake."  This keeps the crust from shrinking too much and bubbling up.  Bake at 375 degrees for about 25 to 30 minutes.  Carefully remove the foil and beans and bake an additional 10 to 12 minutes, until browned.  Set aside to cool completely.

Meanwhile, mix the sugar and Clearjel thickener together and add to a  saucepan with 1 pint of blueberries, water, sugar and lemon juice.   Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until nice and thick and jam-like, about 15 to 20 minutes.  Taste your filling and adjust the sugar and lemon juice as needed.

Add the remaining 1 pint of blueberries and only cook for about 5 minutes more.  This will give your filling a nice fresh flavor with plenty of juicy berries bursting in each bite.  Scrape into a bowl and set aside to cool.  It doesn't have to be cold, but don't put it into your crust piping hot.

For the topping, combine the cream cheese and powdered sugar in a mixer bowl and beat until well combined and smooth.

Scrape the bowl often and then beat in the sour cream and vanilla.  Mix until smooth.

Melt the bloomed gelatin in the microwave, be careful this only takes 15 to 20 seconds.  Then slowly pour it into the mixer while it is running on low speed.  Increase speed to medium high and mix until everything is combined.

Pour the sour cream topping over the cooled filling in the pie crust. Put in the refrigerator for a minimum of 4 hours.

You can decorate the top with blueberries if you like.  Wow, look at the "homey touches" on that pie crust!  Don't worry, even if it looks a little rough, I promise it will be delicious!!

Close up of the delicious pie filling!

Delicious flaky layers in the pie crust!  This is due to the use of cold butter, shortening and vodka!

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